Pontianak (folklore)

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The pontianak (Dutch-Indonesian spelling: "puntianak"; Jawi: ڤونتيانق) is a malicious, flesh-eating female ghost in Indonesian folklore. Other common names include "matianak" and "kuntilanak". The figure resembles that of the spirit of a woman who died during pregnancy. This is despite the fact that the earliest recordings of pontianaks in Malay lore describe the ghost as originating from a stillborn child.

One of the early recordings of this creature include that of Syarief Abdurahman's, who had encountered a woman near the banks of the river areas, for which he is travelling to the coastal areas where he and his army have fought for.[1][2][3]


The word "Pontianak" is reputation for the word phrase "perempuan mati beranak literally meaning female dies in childbirth during the time, she's giving birth to a young child, the mother and the child supposedly to be dead

she giving birth to a young child who is wrapped within cloths under her arms. Another theory is that the word is a combination complexity of "puan/pon = woman" "ti = die "anak = child". It is said that today her death was still unknown.


Many people can know how to summon this female ghost is to chant the words using media as "calling",there are three variations of summoning spirits

  1. 1 song of Lingsir Wengi, this depicted song characteristic chanting the lyrics of the song is said to welcome her presence into our world; a supernatural beings where she can show itself one example.

  1. 2 form to a Jailangkung, these can manifest the spirits from a different world; a traditional bamboo game which is said to have been cursed. The fact is said the figure of a woman can be summon.

Description of physical appearance and behaviour[edit]

A pontianaks is usually depicted as a beautiful, red-eyed and pale-skinned woman with long black hair dressed in a blood-smeared white dress that prey on men and helpless people. Notably, a pontianak is said to have a hole on the nape of her neck. They are also described as changing into a more monstrous form upon having captured suitable prey.

In folklore, a pontianak only appears under the full moon and typically announces her presence through high-pitched baby cries or feminine laughter. If the vocalisations are low in volume, then the pontianak is nearby; if it is loud, then she is far. Some sources also state that dog howling indicates that a pontianak is far; but if the dog whines, then pontianak is nearby. Her presence is also said to be heralded by a floral fragrance identifiable as that of the plumeria, followed by a stench similar to that of a decaying corpse. The Indian version, the Churail, turns her feet backwards just before her transformation into her vampiric form.

A pontianak kills her victims by using her long fingernails to physically remove their internal organs for consumption. In cases where the pontianak desires revenge against a male individual, she is said to eviscerate the victim with her hands. It is also said that if one has their eyes open when a pontianak is near, she will suck them out of the victim's head. Pontianaks are said to locate their prey by sniffing out their drying laundry. For this reason, some Malaysians refuse to leave any piece of clothing outside of their house overnight.

The pontianak is associated with banana trees, and her spirit is said to reside in them during the day.

According to folklore, a pontianak can be fended off by driving a nail into the hole on the nape of her neck, which causes her to turn into a beautiful woman and a good wife until the nail is removed. In the case of the kuntilanak, the nail is plunged into the apex of her head.

The Indonesian kuntilanak is similar to the pontianak, but commonly takes the form of a bird and sucks the blood of virgins and young women. The bird, which makes a "ke-ke-ke" sound as it flies, may be sent through some black magic to make a woman fall ill; the characteristic symptom is vaginal bleeding. In her female form, when a man approaches her, she suddenly turns and reveals that her back is hollow, but this apparition is more specifically referred to sundel bolong.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Indonesian films, see also id:Kategori:Film kuntilanak
    • Kuntilanak (1962) starring Ateng
    • Kuntilanak (1974)
    • Lawang Sewu (2007)
    • Casablanca Tunnel (Red Kuntilanak) (2007)
    • Kuntilanak's Nest (2008)
    • Kuntilanak (2006), Kuntilanak 2 (2007), Kuntilanak 3 (2008)
    • Kuntilanak's Morgue (2009)
    • Kuntilanak Beranak (2009)
    • The Nail of Kuntilanak (2009)
    • Santet Kuntilanak (2012)
  • Indonesian Video Game
    • DreadOut (2014)
    • Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror(2018)
  • Malaysian films
    • Pontianak (1957)
    • Dendam Pontianak (1957)
    • Sumpah Pontianak (1958)
    • The Pontianak Child, also known as Anak Pontianak (1958)
    • The Return of Kuntilanak (1963)
    • Pontianak Musang Cave (1964)
    • Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam (2004)
    • Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 2 (2005)
    • The Scream of Pontianak (2005)
    • Help Me, I'm a Pontianak (2011)
    • Pontianak vs Oil Person (2012)
    • The Nail of Kuntilanak (2013)
  • Singaporean films
  • Malaysian fiction
  • American fiction

Related folklore[edit]

In Philippine folklore, the vampiric tiyanak shares many similarities in terms of origin with the pontianak. However, the tiyanak is the ghost of the child rather than the mother. In Pakistani/Arabian culture, the story of Pichal Peri is really similar too.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Skeat, William Walter (1900). Malay Magic. New York: MacMillan and Co.
  2. ^ Skeat, Walter William; Blagden, Charles Otto (1906-01-01). Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula. Macmillan and Company, limited.
  3. ^ Talbot, D. Amaury (1915-01-01). Woman's Mysteries of a Primitive People: The Ibibios of Southern Nigeria. Cassell and Company. pp. 216–217.
  4. ^ "Revenge of the Pontianak". IMDb. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  5. ^ "The House of Aunts". 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2015-04-13.

External links[edit]